Astro photography

Lunar Colour

Lunar Colour. The image of the Moon shown on the right is how we usually think of it — various shades of gray. Digital enhancement tells a different story. The image on the left is from the same base photograph, but the inherent colours have been enhanced to show them more distinctly. Different rock types on the surface show up as different colours. Titanium rich lunar magmas look dark green-blue in the lava flooded regions, as do the iron-titanium oxide (ilmenite) regions. Metal poor basalts look orange.

The light turquoise in the lower right quarter of the Moon is the ejecta blanket from countless crater forming impacts in the region. There is a distinctive white area around the 85 km wide crater Tycho. This shows Tycho to be a relatively young (108 million years) crater that formed much later than most of the other nearby craters since its ejecta lies on top of the others. There has been some intriguing research recently that suggests that the impactor that created Tycho crater my have been a sibling to the impactor that hit the Earth 65 million years ago leading to the end of the dinosaurs. Both impactors may have been large chunks of rock broken off an asteroid called 298 Baptistina when it collided with another asteriod some 160 million years ago.

This image was featured on the Earth Science Picture of the Day website.

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Steve Irvine
R.R. # 2
Wiarton, Ontario
Canada N0H 2T0
(519) 534 2175